Friday Poem

Gary Snyder Starts Singing

When you suddenly started singing in the middle of your poetry reading
we were caught off guard.
It was as though, when we had crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and turned left,
suddenly we had seen the pampas spread out before us,
when actually we should have seen Wall Street.

The domestic poultry that are supposedly unable to fly in our country,
in the garden of your stanzas, begin ably flying about.
They sail across the planet’s sky in V-formation like wild geese,
as if to say, “We are completely fed up with strolling around
on the Gutenberg runway. From now on we are going to be free,
so please look after yourselves in future.”

When you sang, you yourself became a song.
With your feet rooted in the earth,
your body began to float off into air.
We, left behind, recalled the familiar old maxim,
‘A miracle is reality laid bare.’

But as you sing, you are whispering:
“My tongue which has been up to a lot of vulgar things
is also capable of such elegant things”.

by Inuo Taguchi
publisher: Poetry International, 2006
translation: William I. Elliott and Kazuo Kawamura